Author Archives: viperbats

Spring Means Softball

After months of anticipation, it’s time to get back outside (and back into shape) for spring sports season. While spring may be synonymous with the beginning of baseball season for major leagues, many of us live out our dreams of scoring on a baseball diamond by playing in local softball leagues. Whether you choose to play fast pitch or slow pitch, the muscles and technique used in both are very similar. That said, the game strategy, pitching styles, and equipment are very different.

Much of the hitting power in softball comes from owning the right bat. Viper Bats can help you choose the right bat for you, whether you’re interested in a wood softball bat, maple softball bat, or bamboo softball bat or a custom wood softball bat made specifically to fit your preferences. Getting your bat speed up will amplify the power behind your hits, and help you drive the ball higher and further. No matter what level you play at a quick swing is very important, but it’s absolutely essential in men’s slow pitch softball.
To further improve your hitting power, you can work on building a strong core and powerful leg muscles. A powerful core and quick hands can be developed through a variety of exercises. It’s going to take more than just lifting weights – you’ll need to incorporate smart nutrition, cardio, and endurance conditioning into your routine. When you do your weight training, try to incorporate elements of softball into your practice- strong hitting requires flexibility as well as brute strength. Make sure to tone the front, back, and sides of your core muscles as you work, your oblique muscles are especially important to include in training. Combining resistance with your cardio will help prevent the decline of your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which hold the key to explosive bursts of power.

Fielding is often underappreciated in the game of men’s slow pitch, but as in any team sport a strong defense is crucial. Work on your quickness and response time- try to “stop” the ball rather than catch it. Everyone struggles when fielding ground balls, but working on your form can help correct those simple (and frustrating) mistakes. Use your knees, not your waist, to reach the ground. Field the bottom of the ball, and keep your glove in a position so that you can see both it and the ball in your frame of vision. Continue to improve your quickness and agility as well, and your defensive skills will thank you.

Refining your practice with a wood softball bat is smarter than using a metal one. Wood is less forgiving, and will give you feedback when you need to improve. Wood softball bats are made out of different types of wood, and each will feel different when you test it out. Viper bats are all ASA approved and crafted to meet ASA wood bat regulations.

While your league may just be warming up, in the meantime you can watch women’s softball on TV with DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket as their college season concludes for the year. The NCAA has announced the 2014 Women’s World Series location as Oklahoma City, OK and fans can look forward to a variety of activities at the event in addition to exciting game action.

Spring training means different things for everyone, but practice smart and you’re sure to notice improvement come game time!

This article was written by Beth Kelly who is a freelance blogger who writes about everything from softball to the science of space travel. She lives and works in Chicago, IL. You can follow her on twitter at https://twitter.com/bkelly_88

 

Youth and Little League Wood Bat Guide

This is a guide for parents so they can better educate themselves on what kind of wood bat to get for their child.  I get asked all of the below questions frequently, and hopefully this guide will help improve the knowledge base and wood bat buying process of parents everywhere.

FAQ

  • How long does it take to get a bat?
    The biggest thing I can tell parents is to plan ahead when it comes to getting a bat.  If you know of a tournament coming up, or if a child needs a bat for a league, try to purchase at least a month or so in advance so you don’t have to pay extra for express production and/or shipping fees.  One thing to keep in mind when buying a wood bat is that it’s typically not an in-stock purchase like a metal bat. Typical turnaround time is 1-4 weeks depending on the time of year. During busy season (spring) expect it to be closer to the 4 week mark.
  • What bat is the best for my kid?
    There isn’t going to be one bat that is “the best” or give them “more pop”.  The biggest thing to know is that birch, maple, and bamboo bats are going to be more forgiving and last longer on average than an ash bat.  With that said, most kids are used to swinging a very light metal bat so the closest alternative to that is the Birch Ultra Light’s or Ash Ultra Light’s.
  • What’s the difference between a Little League and Youth bat?
    This is a fairly important thing to know when it comes to buying a bat.  Little League bats can have a maximum 2.25” diameter barrel so anything bigger than that is not legal to use.  Youth bats are going to have a slightly larger barrel (~2.35”) and are usable in leagues that aren’t specifically “little league”.  The best way to find out which type is right for you is to ask your coach if it’s a “little league” tournament/league or if they can have a bigger barrel and go from there.

    Our little league bats all say LL on them and can be found here:    http://www.viperbats.com/littleleaguewoodbats.asp

    Our youth bats can be found here:
    http://www.viperbats.com/youthwoodbats.asp

  • What’s the difference between the LL271 and LL10?
    The knob is the only thing that’s different on these two models.  The LL271 is going to have a slightly flared knob while the LL10 is going to have a standard/conventional knob.  Typically the LL10 is a little closer to a metal bat profile.
  • What’s the difference between the Y73 and Y271?
    The knob on the 73 is going to be a large bell shaped knob that is going to work as a counterweight while the 271 is going to be a flared knob which is more common in wood bats.  Typically, if a player has never swung a Y73 I suggest they go with the Y271 because it’s going to be similar to what they’ve swung in metal bats.  The Y73 is a very popular model and a lot of people like it; I just don’t recommend it for someone who isn’t sure if they’re sold on the knob style.

Why did my bat break?

I get asked a lot the question of “why did my bat break?” or “my bat broke pre-maturely, is there some sort of warranty or can you guys replace it?” These questions are quite complex and are often hard to judge without seeing the actual use of the bat but you are still able to tell a lot from the bat itself and making sure they are used properly from the start to ensure a full life span. Wood bats are quite fragile if used improperly so being knowledgeable about them will not only help you as a hitter but also save you money.

The biggest thing that leads to premature breakage is hitting on the wrong side of the bat, often referred to as “logo up or logo down.” What this means is make sure contact with the ball is made on the edge grain of the bat versus the face grain of the bat which can be seen below.  Ash bats are much more susceptible to this type of breakage and you’ll typically see flaking of the barrel. One thing to keep in mind here is that some people swing with a “quarter roll”, so when they have the logo up or down they actually make contact on the face grain. This is a simple fix and the player needs to adjust the logo so it’s either facing towards the pitcher or away from the picture, basically they turned it a quarter roll in their hands when they start. The best way to test this is to grab your bat and take a couple of practice swings holding it up in the logo down or up position and stop the bat where you would make contact and see where you’re making contact. If you’re making contact on the edge grain you’re good to go, if you’re not simply turn the bat a quarter roll in your hands before you start and take another practice swing and you should see you are now making contact on the edge grain.

The other major cause of premature breakage is making contact on the “weak” spots of the bat. The big examples here are getting “jammed”, making contact in on the handle, on an inside pitch or hitting it off the end of the bat because you were “out in front” or ahead of the pitch and the end of the barrel made contact first instead of the barrel. The big thing to keep in mind here is that you might make contact in one of these weak spots but your bat doesn’t break. Usually when this happens you can feel on contact that something definitely wasn’t right, when this happens it weakens the wood and makes it more susceptible to breaking on future swings. Bad hits over time will weaken the bat and at times you will have what you think should have been a solid hit but your bat breaks and you’re thinking to yourself “wow there must be something wrong with the bat” but in reality it was caused by previous bad hits and was just the breaking point in what the wood could handle.

The last type of breakage we see is the ones due to faulty wood. It doesn’t happen often but we do see it from time to time. The big thing here is looking for the straightness of the grain. If you see a lot of wavy grain it makes the bat considerably weaker and often leads early breakage. Usually you can even tell the difference in the contact when you use a bat with really wavy grain compared to a straight grained bat as it won’t feel as solid when you make contact. This type of wood is most commonly found in your retail stores and often why they’re so much cheaper than your custom bat bought directly from a company.

If you have any questions or comment feel free to ask, hopefully with this information and tips you can make your next bat not only last longer but with more pop!